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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, July 02, 2022

City officials plan safety summit to address Madison's 'heroin epidemic'

Madison city officials announced plans for a safety summit to combat rising city-wide trends in heroin abuse Tuesday following three probable overdoses this weekend.

In a discussion before Tuesday's Common Council meeting, city officials unveiled plans for a ""comprehensive  planning response"" involving police and medical officials. The daylong summit on Nov. 14 will address Madison's ""heroin epidemic.""

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Madison Police Department spokesman Joel DeSpain said this weekend's incidents highlight ongoing concerns regarding a heroin trend that has  increased in severity over the past three years.

""[Heroin] is an epidemic in the city,"" said DeSpain. ""Usage and crimes related to heroin continue to be a problem throughout the city, and not just in Madison but throughout the country.""

Police are currently investigating the death of a man found in his East Side residence Saturday morning, killed by an apparent opiate overdose.

Two other men were hospitalized  over the weekend because of heroin overdoses, one outside a North Side gas station and another in his downtown home on West Main Street. Both were revived and taken to the hospital upon paramedics' arrival.

""Sometimes, we as first responders can't get there soon enough, and people are dying,"" said DeSpain. ""I just think people need to know the gamble they're taking.""

Madison Drug Task Force Lieutenant Brian Ackeret said police are combating heroin abuse and related crimes by focusing on heroin distribution, as well as upping undercover purchases and search warrants.

Still, DeSpain said police ""cannot arrest their way out of this crisis.""

""We've been telling county executives and the mayor that we need to get our arms around this as a community,"" DeSpain said. ""This is more than a police problem—it's a community health crisis.""

—Taylor Harvey

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